Israel has granted a three hour ceasefire, and welcomes ceasefire proposals by Egypt and France.
Mark Regev says Israel could accept the proposal if it halts "hostile fire" from Gaza and includes measures to prevent Hamas from rearming.That last part is absolutely key. Israel has been down this road before with Hamas, although Hamas for now says that it rejects the ceasefire. They also say that they will reject any long term ceasefire.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that Israel and the Palestinian Authority accepted the proposal. Israeli officials will not confirm that.
The precise details of the proposal remain unclear.
Earlier today, Israel ordered a pause in its Gaza offensive for three hours to allow food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians, and the country's leaders debated whether to accept an international cease-fire plan or expand the assault against Hamas.
With criticism rising of the operation's spiraling civilian death toll and Gazans increasingly suffering the effects of nonstop airstrikes and shelling, Israel's military said opened "humanitarian corridors" to allow aid supplies to reach Palestinians.
Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the "recess in offensive operations" was aimed at allowing in supplies and fuel and would last from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m local time (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. EST). He said similar lulls in the coming days would be considered.
However, Lerner said that even during the pause "for every attack against the army, there will be a response." Gaza residents reported scattered gunfire and explosions even after it was supposed to have gone into effect, but the scale of fighting appeared to drop.
I have no doubt that the world media will ignore that part and simply call attention to the fact that Israel is continuing its fighting against Hamas and killing civilians.
Hamas will eventually claim to agree to a ceasefire, but continues attacking anyways. The diplomats will see that there's a decrease in attacks, so claim that there is a lull in fighting, and that the ceasefire is in effect. Thus, when Israel strikes back, the diplomats and the media will go after Israel, and ignore Hamas who once again precipitates a conflict in pursuit of its ideological goal - the extermination of Israel.
All of this favors Hamas and their ability to regroup and rearm, all while continuing their war against Israel. It's the hudna, stupid.
The UNRWA is lying and obfuscating about what happened at the Jabilya school yesterday. Keep in mind that if Israel truly intended to attack the school, far more than 30 people would have been killed. The entire facility would have been flattened. Hamas wouldn't have minded that one bit, which is why they were firing from positions in and around the school, hoping to lure Israel into doing just that. The EU is disturbed by the casualties at the school. Figures. Ignore that Hamas causes the fighting by attacking Israel incessantly, and then whine when civilians are injured or killed as Israel fights back.
Does anyone believe that the thousands of rockets Hamas has fired at Israel over the years wasn't meant to kill and maim Israelis? Every last rocket was meant to do so. To manufacture the kassams, Hamas uses sugar and fertilizer; materials that can easily be taken from humanitarian relief and repurposed for making bombs to kill Israelis.
Hamas, meanwhile, continues executing people it suspects of being collaborators. They are summarily executing people, but no one is paying particular notice to any of that. They are terrorists after all.
The Muqata and Isreallycool are both liveblogging the situation.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah continues squawking that they're ready to fight Israel. Of course they are; they've had two years to get the latest and greatest weapons into Southern Lebanon courtesy of Syria and Iran with UNIFIL looking the other way the entire time as the Lebanese military is incapable of taking on Hizbullah itself and the Lebanese government has been coopted by Hizbullah.
Some Israeli analysts believe that Hamas has nothing left but rockets, although some are warning that Hamas may attempt to send suicide bombers into Israel. That's not a particularly insightful analysis; Hamas hasn't had much more than that for years.
Hamas has to show something for the fearsome pounding it's received at the hands of the IAF and IDF, so they're going to try and hit Israel with something more than just kassams, mortars, or grad rockets. Suicide bombings would do the trick.
Giving Hamas any pause or break in the fighting means that Hamas can and will use that time not to provide humanitarian relief or to actually do the work of a government of which it is part as the elected leaders of the Palestinian Authority, but to rearm and prepare for the next phase of its war against Israel. Even still, the rockets keep falling on Israel.
Palestinian witnesses counter the UNRWA nonsense and say that Hamas was undeniably using the areas in and around schools as mortar launching facilities. So much for the UNRWA being a neutral party in all this; they know that they've been facilitating terrorism for decades by allowing Hamas and Fatah to build up a terrorist infrastructure in the refugee camps and then by allowing them to openly operate militias. UNRWA is being exposed as nothing more than a terrorist facilitating entity, paid for out of the goodness of US tax dollars (among others). The UN will do everything imaginable to deny and obfuscate their role in the attack, particularly because this isn't the first time that the terrorists in Gaza have done this, nor is it the first time that terrorists have attacked Israel from UN positions either - see the Hizbullah war in 2006 when Hizbullah repeatedly fired on Israeli positions from in and around UNIFIL observer posts, getting UNIFIL forces caught in the line of return fire.
I've been warning about this for some time now that the Israeli practice of warning Palestinians of impending attacks was counterproductive. Carl in Jerusalem notes that that's indeed the case; Hamas has been using those calls to organize human shields to protect their vital assets.
Well, the war's back on. Fighting has resumed in earnest, although I'd point out that it never did stop during the 3-hour period.
Aaron at Internet Haganah posts an interesting video showing a Hamas mortar crew firing on Israel. It was apparently taken last summer, and while it shows that the crew was hit by Israeli counterbattery fire, I think the more useful detail is how the terrorists were firing the weapon.
Note how the terrorists are using string to hold up the mortar round in the barrel and are then able to fire it from a distance. These terrorists know that the IAF and IDF is excellent at killing terrorists, and they're trying to fire remotely. It's crude; it's cheap, and it gives the terrorists the ability to cut and run at the drop of a hat because they could set up the launchers anywhere (the center median of a street or near a school) and fire from the relative safety of a nearby building).
You want to know how Hamas can seemingly slip away after firing these mortars and rockets; there you go.
Hamas is busy murdering Fatah and people it considers collaborators - more than 40 of them, and no one is getting particularly upset at those criminal acts. Israel kills civilians by accident after being fired upon by Hamas from UN facilities and the world gets pissed. Fancy that.
Israel is going after those smuggling tunnels again and has warned residents in and around Rafah that they will be attacking. It appears that the Israeli military is going to sweep through the Philadelphi corridor to destroy Hamas' capabilities to regroup and resupply its weapons caches via the smuggling tunnels.
As I've continually reported, Hamas makes money from those tunnels to sustain itself - both by smuggling in contraband and from getting a piece of the action, to say nothing of the weapons, equipment and personnel it brings in. Destroying those tunnels limits Hamas and what they're capable of doing going forward.
Israeli communities continue to be bombarded by Hamas rockets and mortars. Hamas thugs who had been begging for Israeli soldiers to come into Gaza are suddenly scarce and shying from a fight. Gee, what did anyone expect from a bunch of terrorists who hide behind women and children? They're biding their time until the diplomats get to bail them out again. And just as predictably, the diplomats are right on cue: a truce is possible within 2 days. Really?
Hamas has agreed to a truce before? They've continually stated that they will not accept a truce, and they most certainly don't accept Israel's existence.
Nothing has changed to that calculus.
And in an up-is-down world, Amnesty International (and YNet, which published the report) says that the IDF purposefully endangering Gazan civilians, and only at the bottom of the report indicates that Gazan gunmen were a danger to civilians. Nice. Shame on both of them for not only the moral equivalence, but ignoring that the current war in Gaza was wholly the result of Hamas, a terrorist group, firing thousands of kassams into Israel each with the intent to murder Israeli civilians, and Hamas now hides among civilians while carrying out ongoing terrorist operations against Israel. Israeli forces are doing their best to avoid civilian casualties, but any such casualties are the fault of no one but Hamas under international law and common sense (which is sorely lacking among all these so-called human rights groups that suddenly awaken to report on Israel's response while ignoring Hamas and the months of attacks during the so-called ceasefire).